The European explorer Marco Polo (1254-1324 CE) traveled on these routes and described them in depth in his famous work but he is not credited with naming them. Around 60 CE the west had become aware that silk was not grown on the trees in China but was actually spun by silkworms. First the Romans and then Samarkand made glasswares that were especially valued due to their high quality and transparency. "Silk Road." Emperor Wudi heard about a new, larger breed of horse that could be used to equip the Han cavalry. The Silk Road (or Silk Route) is one of the oldest routes of international trade in the world. Tyrian Purple Shroud of Charlemagneby Unknown Artist (Public Domain). Judging by the road’s name silk was the main commodity in the list. Mark, J. J. The Seleucid King Antiochus VII Sidetes (138-129 BCE) opposed this expansion and, also wishing revenge for the death of his brother, Demetrius, waged war against the Parthian forces of Phrates II, Mithridates successor. This trade appeared to be extremely considerable that the main set of trade routes between Europe and Asia came to be generally known as the Silk Road; and silk was definitely the main goods that traded on … See more about What Was Traded on China's Silk Road and Why. It was named for the silk carried along the road. All these elements converged in the court cooking of the second Persian empire of the Sasanians (221-651 C.E. Please note that content linked from this page may have different licensing terms. They also received exotic fruits such as pomegranates, figs, watermelons, other kinds of melons and peaches. The growth of silk as a trade item both stimulated and characterized other types of exchanges during the era. … The Silk Road. Nonetheless, with Bukhara as the capital, Samarkand declined and was uninhabited by the late 18 th century, only reviving with the introduction of the railway in 1888, which allowed the city to regain its ancient role as a trading centre at the crossroads of routes to east and west. In its time, the Silk Road served to broaden people's understanding of the world they lived in; its closure would propel Europeans across the ocean to explore, and eventually conquer, the so-called New World of the Americas. However, once the trade routes were closed by the Mongol invasion, the Song used the ships along the Maritime Silk Road to export their goods. One such example can be found in wild silphion which was gathered in Northern Africa and traded along the Silk Road to create one of the foundations of the wealth of Carthage and Kyrene. Both terms for this network of roads were coined by the German geographer and traveler, Ferdinand von Richthofen, in 1877 CE, who designated them 'Seidenstrasse’ (silk road) or 'Seidenstrassen’ (silk routes). None of the religions and philosophies of China such as Taoism and Confucianism gained much of a following in western countries, but the religions of Buddhism and to a lesser extent Islam and Christianity all gained followings in the eastern empires. A freelance writer and former part-time Professor of Philosophy at Marist College, New York, Joshua J. This was one of the earliest goods to be imported. Paper was invented during the Han Dynasty era and was also appreciated in the West. He sent an expedition to … Even its historical fame as an elaborate trade system, exchanging rare goods like cloth and spices between the East and West, does not give it justice. Most often, individual merchant caravans would cover specific sections of the routes, pausing to rest and replenish supplies, or stopping altogether and selling on their cargos at points throughout the length of the roads, leading to the growth of lively trading cities and ports. `Seres’ was the name by which the Greeks and Romans knew China, meaning `the land where silk came from’. Most importantly, silk was used as currency for trade along the silk road. Books The bacterium Yersinia pestis, carried on fleas which attached themselves to Central Asian rats, came westwards in the years 534, 715 and, most devastatingly, in 1346, when the Black Death killed approximately 40 per cent of the population of Europe. When Zhang Qian came back to China, he told the emperor about the rich countries lying to the west, and he described the large and swift "winged horses" which were better than the breeds in the empire. The silk trade hit as far as the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, Europe, and North Africa. Some Rights Reserved (2009-2020) under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license unless otherwise noted. Besides silk, the Chinese also exported (sold) teas, salt, sugar, porcelain, and spices. The most devastating thing ever traded on the Silk Road, however, was disease. The main products that were traded were traded were paper, … Then it was made in certain Central Asian countries and Byzantium in the 5th or 6th centuries. The ancient Silk Road contributed greatly to the cultural exchange between China and the West. Even so, by the time of the Roman Emperor Augustus (r.27 BCE – 14 CE) trade between China and the west was firmly established and silk was the most sought-after commodity in Egypt, Greece, and, especially, in Rome. It was pivotal to the economic, cultural, political, and religious interactions between the various regions of the Old World.The modern globalized world as we know it today could not exist without it. With the defeat of Antiochus, Mesopotamia came under Parthian rule and, with it, came control of the Silk Road. Art, religion, philosophy, technology, language, science, architecture, and every other element of civilization was exchanged along these routes, carried with the commercial goods the merchants traded from country to country. When the Silk road and Gold Salt trade first started it was only looked at like a way of life or a money making path. The Romans thought [silk] a vegetable product combed from trees and valued it at its weight in gold. The Age of Discovery would impact cultures around the world as European ships claimed some lands in the name of their god and country and influenced others by introducing western culture and religion and, at the same time, these other nations influenced European culture. Then during the Mongol conquest, first Mongol and other tribes of the north who originated in Mongolia and Xinjiang attacked Central Asian and countries in western Asia. The Roman Empire was a major gold and silver exporter. –1324 C.E.). The Byzantine emperor Justinian (527- 565 CE), tired of paying the exorbitant prices the Chinese demanded for silk, sent two emissaries, disguised as monks, to China to steal silkworms and smuggle them back to the west. The Persians maintained the Royal Road carefully and, in time, expanded it through smaller side roads. Much of Eurasia had cultivated grapevines and made wines from time immemorial, but the Han, separated from other civilizations, by seas, extreme deserts and high mountains, thought it was novel. By this time, Europeans had become used to the goods from the east and, when the Silk Road closed, merchants needed to find new trade routes to meet the demand for these goods. Octavian would triumph over Antony and Cleopatra; he could do nothing, however, to curtail the popularity of silk. No, the Silk Road was not a path made of worm-woven textiles. The network was used regularly from 130 BCE, when the Han officially opened trade with the west, to 1453 CE, when the Ottoman Empire boycotted trade with the west and closed the routes. In exchange, horses, glassware, textile s, and manufactured goods traveled eastward. In this way, the Silk Road can be said to have established the groundwork for the development of the modern world. Much of this silk came to the island of Kos, where it was woven into dresses for the ladies of Rome and other cities; in A.D. 91 the relatively poor state of Messenia had to forbid its women to wear transparent silk dresses at religious initiations. Religious beliefs of the peoples of the Silk Road changed radically over time and was largely due to the effects of travel and trade on the Silk Road itself. Early on however, during the Han Dynasty era that was contemporaneous with the Roman Empire, the Han had a near monopoly of the silk trade, and the translucent, colorful silk fabric dazzled the eyes of the people in the vast Roman Empire. Transregional Trade: the Silk Road. The Ancient History Encyclopedia logo is a registered EU trademark. It was almost exclusively made in China until the secret was found out by the Japanese around the year 300. The Sogdian townspeople profited richly from their trading operations with India, the Near East, the Middle East, and the countries of the ancient world. The name ‘Silk Road’ was only coined in the 19th century, but the routes it refers to originated around the second century BC. It went through India, Asia Minor, Mesopatamia, Egypt, Africa, Greece, ROME and Britain Among all the things that went along this trade route, the most popular was silk from China. The greatest value of the Silk Road was the exchange of culture. The history of the Silk Road pre-dates the Han Dynasty in practice, however, as the Persian Royal Road, which would come to serve as one of the main arteries of the Silk Road, was established during the Achaemenid Empire (c. 550-330 BCE). The Silk Road was a by-word for rich caravans, but primarily it was the name of the network of trade routes that, in ancient times, led from China through Central Asia to Europe. The island of Kos became wealthy & luxurious through their manufacture of silk clothing. They were surprised that people made wine from them. Woolen goods, carpets, curtains, blankets, and rugs came to China from Central Asia and the eastern Mediterranean. As they both favored Chinese silk, which was increasingly becoming associated with licentiousness, Octavian exploited the link to deprecate his enemies. However, except for a successful attack of an Arab army against the Tang army in Central Asia in 751, armies from the West rarely attacked eastwards along the Silk Road routes. The Silk Roads were dynamic and porous; goods were traded with local populations throughout, and local products were added into merchants’ cargos. Then the empires of the Song (960–1279) and Yuan (1279–1368) greatly increased the production and nurtured large-scale silk industries that helped supply the Eurasian market with quality silk. As the Silk Road was not a single thoroughfare from east to west, the term 'Silk Routes’ has become increasingly favored by historians, though 'Silk Road’ is the more common and recognized name. Trade on the Silk Road was a significant factor in the development of the civilizations of China, the Indian subcontinent, Persia, Europe and Arabia. History-The Silk Road began with the Han Dynasty. See more about the History of the Silk Road. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Carpets, tapestries, blankets and other woven goods from Central Asia and East Mediterranean became popular luxury items. One of the most famous travelers of the Silk Road was Marco Polo (1254 C.E. What did they trade on the Silk Road? Initially, China received horses and various agricultural crops from the West. The Silk Road. But there were other important exports as well. Please help us create teaching materials on Mesopotamia (including several complete lessons with worksheets, activities, answers, essay questions, and more), which will be free to download for teachers all over the world. Nowadays the term “ silk road” is used to mark all the roads that were used for trade … The … A storehouse discovered here, which again is at the crossroads of China, India, Persia, and the Mediterranean, revealed some of the principle luxury goods being traded. Main routes of the Silk Road In addition to silk, a wide range of other goods was traded along the Silk Road, and the network was also important for migrants and travellers, and for the spread of religion, philosophy, science, technology, and … Zhang Qian’s expedition led him into contact with many different cultures and civilizations in central Asia and, among them, those whom he designated the `Dayuan’, the `Great Ionians’, who were the Greco-Bactrians descended from Alexander the Great’s army. Glassware was novel. Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor darkness of night prevents these couriers from completing their designated stages with utmost speed. Porcelain was another invention that was prized in the West. The plan was successful and initiated the Byzantine silk industry. The Silk Road was an ancient network of trade routes, formally established during the Han Dynasty of China, which linked the regions of the ancient world in commerce between 130 BCE-1453 CE. (329). Web. Just tell us your interests and requirements, and we will tailor-make a Silk Road tour for you. He has taught history, writing, literature, and philosophy at the college level. Rome was survived by its eastern half which came to be known as the Byzantine Empire and which carried on the Roman infatuation with silk. Though religion didn't travel eastwards from the region of China, armies did. Not only silk: other trading goods of the Silk Road The goods carried on the Silk Road moved basically from the East to the West. It is thought, then, that the first contact between China and the west came around the year 200 BCE. It was considered to be a luxury good. These criticisms did nothing to stop the silk trade with Rome, however, and the island of Kos became wealthy and luxurious through their manufacture of silk clothing. Herodotus, writing of the speed and efficiency of the Persian messengers, stated that: There is nothing in the world that travels faster than these Persian couriers. Then as the Mongols slowly occupied the Western Xia, Jin and Southern Song territories, Han Chinese engineers and weapons makers were also sent to help in attacks against the Middle East and Europe. This trade route connected Europe in the West with China in the East, and allowed the exchange of goods, technology, and ideas between the two civilizations. The religious beliefs of people along the Silk Road at the beginning of the 1st century BCE were very different from what they would later become. Transregional Trade: the Silk Road. For only $5 per month you can become a member and support our mission to engage people with cultural heritage and to improve history education worldwide. The kinds of products exported from China during the at-least-3,000-year history of the Silk Road changed over time, but silk was generally the most precious export. They helped in designing and manufacturing explosive devices, cannons, catapults and other weapons. By the time of Seneca the Younger (4 BCE – 65 CE), conservative Romans were more ardent than Augustus in decrying the Chinese silk as immoral dress for women and effeminate attire for men. It was called the Silk Road because silk was traded along it. From India, China imported spices, dyes, fabrics and ivory and sent back to the world Chinese paper, bronze ornaments and tea. The Silk Road was a trade route that went from China to Eastern Europe. They imported, or bought, goods like cotton, ivory, wool, gold, and silver . Silk Road. See more about Porcelain History. Mark, published on 01 May 2018 under the following license: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. Cite This Work The Silk Road. These lines would, centuries later, form the creed of the United States of America’s post office. With the western horse of the Dayuan, the Han Dynasty defeated the Xiongnu. Not only tangible goods were exchanged. In particular, the technology for silk fabric making, stained glass, paper, books, gunpowder and guns production were important innovations that spread to the west. Paper, which had been invented by the Chinese during the Han Dynasty, and gunpowder, also a Chinese invention, had a much greater impact on culture than did silk. By the 13th century, the very important technology for making paper reached Europe through Baghdad and enabled the Renaissance of European science and culture. Cooks valued the plant because of the resin they gathered from its roots and stalk that when dried became a powder that blended the flavors of onion and garlic. https://www.ancient.eu/Silk_Road/. The Han Dynasty of China (202 BCE – 220 CE) was regularly harassed by the nomadic tribes of the Xiongnu on their northern and western borders. These paths eventually crossed down into the Indian sub-continent, across Mesopotamia, and over into Egypt. Silk, the most luxurious fabric of all, was light and easy to pack, and it was the favorite export product along the Silk Road. The rich and powerful paid such huge sums of gold to obtain it that it caused the empire experienced some economic problems. by Whole World Land And Oceans (Public Domain). Between 171-138 BCE, Mithridates I of Parthia campaigned to expand and consolidate his kingdom in Mesopotamia. 09 Dec 2020. Mark, Joshua J. Written by Joshua J. Curative herbs, ideas of astronomy, and even religion also moved along the Silk Road network. Silk was generally the favorite export of China's empires that traded with western countries along the Silk Road from the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) onwards. The New Silk Roads: The New Asia and the Remaking of the World Order, Silk Roads: Peoples, Cultures, Landscapes, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike, Dogs and other animals both exotic and domestic. Arabs traveled to India and China, Chinese to Central Asia, India, and Iran. Born into a family of wealthy merchants in Venice, Italy, Marco traveled with his father to China (then Cathay) when he was just 17 years of age. Art, religion, philosophy, technology, language, science, architecture, and every other element of civilization was exchanged along these routes, carried with the commercial goods the merchants traded from country to country. Other imports were animal skins, cotton fabrics, gold embroidery, and sheep. Greco-Buddhist art represents one of the most vivid examples of this interaction. He reached Sogdia and was surprised that they had settled the region of the Fergana Valley (now Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan) and had a high level of civilization, craftsmanship and wealth. This was because it was a long trip and merchants didn't have a lot of room for goods. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/Silk_Road/. Ancient History Encyclopedia, 01 May 2018. See The History of Silk Road — Routes and Chronology. Silk Road, also called Silk Route, ancient trade route, linking China with the West, that carried goods and ideas between the two great civilizations of Rome and China. Leaving behind his wounded veterans in the city, Alexander moved on. Take a tour to discover the history and culture of the Silk Road. The northern Mesopotamian region (present-day Iran) became China’s closest partner in trade, as part of the Parthian Empire, initiating important cultural exchanges. Siege machines were an important part of Genghis Khan's warfare especially when he wanted to attack fortified cities. The closing of the Silk Road forced merchants to take to the sea to ply their trade, thus initiating the Age of Discovery which led to world-wide interaction and the beginnings of a global community. Sheep were largely unknown in the eastern empires. The Silk Road not only earned China a lot of money, but all along the route cities prospered and markets flourished. See our silk road tour designs for inspiration (they can all be customized): Interested in something different? For over two thousand years the Silk Road was a network of roads for the travel and dissemination of religious beliefs across Eurasia. Armies went back and forth along the trade routes also. The Silk Road was the largest and the most important trade route in human history. Ancient History Encyclopedia Limited is a non-profit company registered in the United Kingdom. In time, these Macedonian warriors intermarried with the indigenous populace creating the Greco-Bactrian culture which flourished under the Seleucid Empire following Alexander’s death. Most of what was traded was expensive luxury goods. Ancient History Encyclopedia. The horse had long been known in China and had been used in warfare for cavalry and chariots as early as the Shang Dynasty (1600 – 1046 BCE) but the Chinese admired the western horse for its size and speed. Most of what was traded was expensive luxury goods. The Tang (618–907) exported more silk than did the Han and became a major supplier to the Eurasian market. The Silk Road routes stretched from China through India, Asia Minor, up throughout Mesopotamia, to Egypt, the African continent, Greece, Rome, and Britain. Th term “silk road” was first used by German geograpist Ferdinand fon Rightghophen in 1877: The term marked the trade path that linked the ancient Rome with China. The consequences of Zhang Qian’s journey was not only further contact between China and the west but an organized and efficient horse breeding program throughout the land in order to equip a cavalry. The Silk Road and The African Gold-Salt Trade By Michael Mudd Silk Road and Gold Salt Trade The Gold Salt trade and the silk road were two very important factors to the growth of civilization and advancements in technology. Under the Greco-Bactrian king Euthydemus I (260-195 BCE) the Greco-Bactrians had extended their holdings. Answer and Explanation: Xian traded many of the goods that found their way across the Silk Road, including silk itself. The Silk Road. Camel with Guide, Tang Dynastyby Jan van der Crabben (CC BY-NC-SA). For technological imports, in the 5th century, glass making technology reached China, and later it was applied to make colorful cloisonné. Mark has lived in Greece and Germany and traveled through Egypt. The Silk Road - from its opening to its closure - had so great an impact on the development of world civilization that it is difficult to imagine the modern world without it. It was through the silk road that imperial Chinese silk reached luxury-seeking Romans, who also added flavor to their food … Last modified May 01, 2018. When the Byzantine Empire fell to the Turks in 1453 CE, the Ottoman Empire closed the Silk Road and cut all ties with the west. The people on the Silk Road traded many items. This let China trade with the Middle East and the Mediterranean world. Today the Silk Road still tells many stories of ancient times and the exchange of cultures. Mark, Joshua J. The greatest value of the Silk Road was the exchange of culture. Polo, and later von Richthofen, make mention of the goods which were transported back and forth on the Silk Road. (2018, May 01). While many different kinds of merchandise traveled along the Silk Road, the name comes from the popularity of Chinese silk with the west, especially with Rome. Many artistic influences were transmitted via the Silk Road, particularly through Central Asia, where Hellenistic, Iranian, Indian and Chinese influences could intermix. The Silk Road involved three continents: Europe, Africa and Asia. Related Content This is actually what spurred the Han court to begin regular Silk Road trade in the 2nd century BC. License. In return, China received many kinds of products ranging from precious metals to horses, weapons, and manufactured goods until modern times. In the area of religion and philosophy, the Chinese were net importers. Recommended Tour Itineraries for China Expats, China Silk Road Destinations and Top Things to Do, The Top 12 Silk Facts for China Travelers, Why China's Silk Road Is So Significant — 10 Reasons that Changed the World. The Han Emperor sent Zhang Qian westwards to find them. "Silk Road." The Silk Road was a group of trade routes that went across Asia to the Mediterranean Sea. China primarily exported silk and porcelain along the Silk Road. Europeans did not learn how to make porcelain until the 1700s. As the prime middlemen controlling the Silk Road, they taxed and no doubt enjoyed exotica arriving from east and west. These products impressed them because they were unfamiliar with the methods of wool processing, carpet manufacture, and weaving. As Durant writes, "Italy enjoyed an 'unfavorable’ balance of trade – cheerfully [buying] more than she sold” but still exported rich goods to China such as “carpets, jewels, amber, metals, dyes, drugs, and glass” (328-329). Bronze ornaments and other products from this metal such as ornate bronze mirrors were exported as was lacquerware. The emperor wanted these horses to use in their wars against the Xiongnu and other tribes, so soon trading embassies were sent to Central Asia and among the gifts they sent to obtain the horses was silk. Jade has always been a favorite semiprecious stone in the region starting from the Shang Dynasty (1600–1046 BC) who imported jade from Xinjiang central Asia. It was during the Han Dynasty era that the first kinds of brightly colored porcelain were manufactured and sent westwards, and especially during the Tang and Yuan eras, fine porcelain pieces were produced in massive quantities and exported. Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization. The trade route received this name in the middle of the 19th century. Initially, during the Han era, traders brought in grape seeds. During the Tang and Song eras, the Tea Horse Trade Route to Tibet was also used to bring in horses. So the various countries involved in the trade benefited because they acquired valuable new crops that improved their nutrition. Prior to becoming Emperor Augustus, Octavian Caesar seized on the controversial topic of silk clothing to denounce his adversaries Mark Antony (83-30 BCE) and Cleopatra VII (69-30 BCE) as immoral. Varieties of millet, rice and other crops traveled the opposite way through the Gansu Corridor and reached western Asia and Europe from the fifth millennium to the second millennium BC. We have also been recommended for educational use by the following publications: Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization registered in Canada. The rich spices of the east, also, contributed more than the fashion which grew up from the silk industry. Silver metal and coins also came from Central Asian countries, and Persia sent famed fine silver wares. More than just a highway for world economies, the Silk Road served as a … They also sent military equipment, gold and silver, and semi-precious stones. Made in certain Central Asian countries, and philosophy at the College.... Crops that improved their nutrition were surprised that people made wine from them money, but caravans! Route received this name in the ancient History Encyclopedia Limited is a registered EU trademark tour you... Ranging from precious metals to horses, weapons, and silver went east — routes and Chronology,,!, fruits, nuts and other treasures regular Silk Road was a trip! Maintained the Royal Road carefully and, with it, came control of the 19th.!, Mesopotamia came under parthian rule and, with it, came control of the Silk Road still many. 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